What to Expect From OSHA in 2015

As a new year is upon us, it is once again time for reflection, new goals, areas of improvement, and it is time to be introduced to OSHA’s plans and expectations for 2015.

Depending on whom you are talking to, OSHA’s plans for 2015 and beyond are either ambitious and will drastically enhance worker safety in all industries, or OSHA has a weak agenda that alienates employers and fails to address the safety and health of the American worker. Read the rest of this article and decide for yourself. Either way, 2015 will be an important year to keep up with OSHA.2015 will bring with it some new and updated regulations, as well as a Regulatory Agenda full of areas for industry improvements, gaps, and severe violator enforcement. Below are some explanations on several rules proposed by OSHA:

Injury & Illness Recordkeeping

The final rule on injury & illness reporting requirements took effect as soon as the clock struck 12:00 on New Year’s. As of January 1, 2015, a new rule governing the requirements for employers to notify OSHA of employee fatalities, hospitalizations, eye loss, and amputations came into effect. Along with this updated standard came an updated list of industries effected by the reporting requirements. More on this topic can be found in the second article in this Newsletter.

Globally Harmonized System (GHS)

I am sure that plenty of you are sick and tired of hearing about the GHS deadlines and updates to OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard. The 1st deadline for this standard was back on December 1, 2013. This deadline was for the training of all employees on the new standard. Have all of your employees received training? In case you are wondering, yes I do believe it was a bit too eager and hasty to set such an early deadline for something that is not required until mid-2015 and mid-2016.

By June 1st of this year, manufacturers and distributors will be required to comply with all of the modified provisions of OSHA’s updated Hazard Communication rule, including a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) on file for each hazardous chemical stored on site. Along with these requirements, by December 1, 2015, distributors must only use GHS labels and data sheets on all shipments.

Remember, Hazard Communications issues are OSHA’s number two most violated standard. I would expect that citations for this standard will only increase over the next few years. Since the compliance dates are getting closer and citations are expected to increase, it makes sense to make sure that you are up-to-date with all the requirements for this standard. Make sure that your company is following the updated guidelines and that your employees comprehend OSHA’s requirements and the changes to the Hazard Communication Standard.

Walking and Working Surfaces, and Personal Fall Protection Systems

It is expected that by June 2015, OSHA will be implementing a new rule that will help prevent slip, trip, and fall hazards and occurrences. This rule should also create a clear set of requirements for personal fall protection systems. This long-awaited update to the standard will hopefully take into account the technological advancements in fall protection equipment and training, which there has been a very clear gap in for many years.

Exposure to Crystalline Silica

This expected rule change is the same as it was at the beginning of 2014. OSHA proposed lowering the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) for quartz, the most common form being crystalline silica, from 100 to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air. While this proposal is in the final stages to become a rule, it is slightly doubtful that the current administration will finalize the rulemaking process by 2017.

Communication Towers

There has been a high level of concern placed on the fatality rate for workers on communication towers. The fatality rate in this industry is extremely high. Tower workers have a risk of fatal injury an estimated 25 to 30 times higher than the risk for the average American worker. This is clearly unacceptable. OSHA has already increased enforcement in this industry and plans to issue a Request For Information (RFI) for industry input and statistics soon.

Combustible Dust

Since 2010, we have all been waiting for a final ruling for an OSHA standard on the general handling of combustible dusts. It seems that we will need to wait a little while longer. OSHA has tabled the discussion for a combustible dust standard until after the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) publishes its own consensus standard (NFPA 652). Until a formal standard is in place, OSHA can and will continue to cite employers for combustible dust hazards under its General Duty Clause (section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act).

Increased Inspections!

It appears that 2015 will be the year of inspections. OSHA has a plan to increase the number of inspections it conducts in 2015 as compared to previous years, as well as a new internal system in place to ensure complete distribution of industries that can and possibly will be inspected. This new system will ensure that all sectors of industry are able to be inspected, from the smallest sawmills and scrap yards, to the largest power plants and auto parts manufacturers. 2015 is not going to be a year to fall behind on regulatory information and compliance, especially if it applies to your business and effects your employees. Don’t’ get caught out of compliance and unprepared.

Contact us now to see how we can help you prepare for the New Year.

770-263-6330 or cti@conversiontechnology.com